The service quality factors : satisfaction, dissatisfaction and recovery
Service quality appears to transcend a number of, as yet, only loosely related fields including operations management, service management and consumer behaviour. The intention of the first part of this research was to draw together some parts of these complementary literatures in order to understand the nature of service quality. The objective of the empirical study was to identify the customer-based determinants of service quality, in particular to identify those service quality factors which tend to lead to satisfaction, those that tend to lead to dissatisfaction and those that are important to the process of service recovery. The purpose of the research was to add to the growing body of knowledge on service quality and to help managers undertake activities for the measurement, control and improvement of service quality. The empirical study took a logical positivist/empiricist approach using customer's perceptions of reality. The chosen research instrument was the critical incident technique. The study found that the various quality factors do have different, though not exclusive, effects on the outcome of the service experience in terms of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. It was also found that the dissatisfaction factors and the satisfaction factors are not the obverse of each other. Furthermore, the satisfaction factors are primarily tangible factors, underlining the critical role of service staff in providing satisfaction, and the dissatisfaction factors are primarily intangible factors stressing the more systemic issues that tend to result in dissatisfaction. It was suggested that these factors may either act as switches, amending customers' perceptions of the service experience during the service itself, or act as levers upon the customers' satisfaction or dissatisfaction thresholds. Service recovery was also identified as a key creator of satisfaction and a number of factors were identified that support the recovery process. It has been suggested that operations managers should be concerned with designing-in satisfaction switches/levers and removing dissatisfaction switches/levers. They should also be concerned with implementing systems to seek out failures and to try to recover from them.